Managing Editor of The Al-Hajj newspaper, Alhaji Bature Iddrissu has expressed shock and disappointment at ‘the recent faintheartedness of former President Jerry John Rawlings’ in trying to explain his grudge with the late president John Evans Atta Mills.
He says, knowing Jerry John Rawlings as someone who says-it-as-it is and one who is not afraid to speak his mind even at gun-point, the former military strongman has more to tell Ghanaians why he fell out with the late President Mills than the flimsy and weak explanations he has been proffering.
According to him there are more germane reasons why the National Democratic Congress founder launched blistering attacks on his once protégé the moment he was sworn into office as President in 2009 until his death in 2012 and even after.
In an interview with this reporter on Mr. Rawlings’ recent ‘explanation’ as to why he hounded the late Mills, The Al-Hajj Managing editor admonished the NDC founder to stop playing the ostrich and tell the world the truth regarding his abhorrence for the late genteel Law Professor.
In his congratulatory message to the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on his 15 years of enthronement, former President Rawlings who has accused all governments after him for corruption and ‘losing the moral high ground’ attempted to explain why he took issues with the late President.
He wrote: “Unknown to many, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II intervened to resolve some differences with the late President Mills. It was most unfortunate that my differences with Professor Mills were deliberately promoted not as wrong versus right, but rather as Rawlings versus Mills. My ‘beef’ with President Mills was the inaction on the re-investigation of the Ya-Na issue as well as his apathy on corruption investigations. I held no malice towards Professor Mills.”
But in a sharp reaction, Alhaji Bature, a well-known Rawlings analyst stated that reasons why the former Air Force pilot hated the man he unearthed and nurtured to become President is far from what Mr Rawlings has put out, and has urged Mr. Rawlings to, for once come clean on the matter before the spirit of his now sworn nemesis, Mills, catches up with him.
Providing an insight into why Mr Rawlings became an ‘opposition leader’ to the late Prof Mills’ stewardship, Alhaji Bature noted that contrary to the reasons the former president gave for the frosty relationship between them, Rawlings began hounding the Late Mills long before he even became president.
According to Alhaji Bature, the bad blood between the two NDC stalwarts first begun in 2000 when Mills, then vice-president to out-going president Rawlings and presidential candidate of the then ruling National Democratic Congress turned down Rawlings request to nominate his Foreign Minister, Dr Obed Asamoah as his (Mills’) running mate.
Subsequent to that, the late President, he said also went against the wish of the NDC founder, his wife and children to nominate Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni over current President John Mahama as running mate for the 2004 election.
Professor Mills’ decision to concede defeat in the 2004 elections to then sitting President John Kufuor, which Rawlings insistently says was rigged, was to become the climax in their already poor relationship.
Alhaji Bature said Mr. Rawlings has since 2005, never forgiven the then NDC presidential candidate whom he (Rawlings) said ought to have rejected the outcome of the polls and make Ghana ungovernable.
Even though Mr Rawlings played valuable role in the 2008 elections which elected Prof Mills as president, The aL-hAJJ Managing editor-cum political commentator explained that due to the aforementioned reasons, especially the late Mill’s concession speech in 2004, the NDC founder vowed that even if his former vice- President became President, he would ensure he served only one term.
This was contrary to explanations by wife of Mr Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings that the husband supported her to contest the late Mills in the party’s 2011 primaries because the late President had assured Mr. Rawlings he would be a one-term President.
In what Alhaji Bature tagged as far from being sheer coincidence, Mrs Rawlings pre-recorded an interview with Joy TV’s PM Express giving reasons why the husband fell out with Mills and why he supported her to ‘uproot’ Mills.
Days before the recorded programme was aired, Mr Rawlings also gave reasons in his congratulatory message to the Asantehene why he had to lead attacks on Mills when he was the President.
Explaining why she contested Mills, Mrs. Rawlings stated on PM Express: “President Mills came to him (Mr. Rawlings) and said I need to just be able to get this and I am going to do it for one term, because I am not well,” she explained that influenced her action.
She reiterated: “From the beginning we knew that he was going for one term and a couple of things happened that then opened the way for contestants.”
She also disclosed that until former President Mills rescinded his decision and decided to attempt a second term, former President Rawlings was solidly behind her candidature.
“From that point of view [that Mills was not going for a second term] he was supporting me then, but things turn differently,” she commented.
The managing editor asked the NDC and its leaders to solidly defend the name of the late Atta Mills and his legacy if they are interested in winning future elections.
He said the seeming mum from the party on the denigration of Atta Mills by the founder of the party is a recipe for disaster for the party, adding that the spirit of the late professor would hound the party forever if they continue to be silent on what is going on.